On August 16, 2014 Shen Ling’s solo exhibition “Flowers and Birds” was unveiled at the Hive Center for Contemporary Art in 798 Art Zone, the exhibition is delicately planned by Dai Zhuoqun, in all the exhibition halls of the gallery, to present Shen Ling’s latest creation of oil paintings related to flowers and birds as well as a series of casual pencil drawing creations. The Director of the Hive Center for Contemporary Art Xia Jifeng, curator Dai Zhuoqun, artist Wang Yuping, etc., attended the opening ceremony of the exhibition.
Shen Ling had learned painting and became famous when she was young, when she was a high school student in 1984, Shen Ling participated in the “International Youth Exhibition” held in the National Art Museum of China, and held the “Shen Ling and Wang Yuping Work Exhibition” at the National Art Museum of China on the eve of graduation in 1988, in 1991 she participated in the “New Generation Art Exhibition”, to become a distinctive artist in the “new generation” painting group. Shen Ling’s works have always been of a strong expressive style, heavily using thick and dense lines to shape images, directly using a large number of pure colors, so that the paintings present a bizarre and exaggerated style. Shen Ling’s early works focused on the state of daily life, and around 2000, she changed her painting subject to secret areas of private life, mainly portraying couples who are painters, boldly, incisively and vividly performing naked sexual pleasure, critic Jia Fangzhou described her as “the first Chinese female artist to cheerfully and positively express the subject of sex as the subject”.
In recent years, Shen Ling’s painting has taken on a new look, and focused on nature instead of people, performing poetic flowers and plants, wind, etc., which is also the feature of the “Flowers and Birds” exhibition. Whether the creation of flowers and birds featured in the exhibition, or the early erotic series, her works’ dense color, strong strokes, incisive and vivid venting of emotion, are really close to the spiritual essence of expressionism in oil painting. At the same time she is one of the new-generation oil painters growing up in the academy with the Western painting educational situation, based on her own reality, unfolding a distant dialogue with the whole system of flowers and birds painting with the use of both meticulous and freehand expressive styles.
The exhibition is entitled “Flowers and Birds”, which refers to traditional Chinese flower-and-bird painting, but it is hard to associate that with contemporary oil painting. Curator Dai Zhuoqun introduced that, any exhibition would create an artistic conception, as this exhibition does, entitled “Flowers and Birds”, which looked for paintings that demand birds and flowers, trying to find a mutual referenced and contrapuntal based path, from the classical poetic category in response to our interpretation and reconstruction of the current poetic spirit. The Director of the Hive Center for Contemporary Art thought that, if you want to sum up the exhibition in a word, it was perfect to use Du Fu’s “Grieved over the years, flowers are moved to tears; Seeing us apart, birds cry with a broken heart”. It’s right, while the first part of the exhibition displays Shen Ling’s creation of oil paintings themed around the flowers and birds, including “Grieved Over the Years, Flowers Are Moved to Tears” series, “How Fast Does the Autumn Wind Come Back”, “Flowers Lonely Whirling in the Wind While Water Lonely Flowing”, flowers’ brilliantly blossoming in gorgeous colors, giving people a pure, fresh and beautiful visual experience. The second part of the exhibition includes “Seeing Us Apart, Birds Cry with Broken Heart”, “Red Apricot” series of works, etc., in which the women’s heads cover the majority of the canvas, and highlight the bitterness and confusion of the figures’ looks, making people feel an uneasy inner turmoil. In addition to oil paintings, the exhibition also exhibits many pencil drawings by the artist, in these small works, the exquisite lines are very like a day-to-day account or casual writing in a diary to the pass time.
Figures, flowers and plants, and all sorts of small items in life are the objects of the paintings, being fresh, lively and full of warmth, while the blanks of the paintings are arranged along with texts, short poems, essays, and the short words reveal Shen Ling’s frankness and true temperament. Brilliantly blossoming flowers, Shen Ling’s world of flowers and plants are colorfully blossoming at the Hive Center for Contemporary Art, and her artistic state is as brilliant as the blossoming flowers. The exhibition will continue to September 14.
Text by Zhang Wenzhi, translated by Chen Peihua and edited by Sue/CAFA ART INFO
Photo by Quan Jing/CAFA ART INFO